When the first television set appeared in American living rooms the home theater was born. It may not have seemed like a theater, with its small, grainy picture and tiny speaker, but it brought the practice of listening to the radio to a higher purpose. Because instead of gathering around the radio to listen to Jack Benny they watched his image while they listened to his show.
The television went through changes over the years, from a large cabinet and small screen in the early 1950's to a sleek stereophonic unit in the early 1980's. The introduction of the home theater began with the first stereo video recorder. This revolutionary machine featured stereo output jacks that could be hooked up to a home stereo system and allowed movies, that were once enjoyed in theatres, to be shown in the home with superior sound technology. In this way, the high and low frequencies could reverberate around the living room simulating the theater experience. The better the sound reinforcement system the better the experience.
Today, the avid homeowner can have a home theatre with almost all the bells and whistles of the real movie theater. Al it takes is some planning, some good gear and a few weekends with a tool box.
Designing the Home Theatre
Many people think that the ultimate home theater can be achieved by buying expensive equipment, that is a great surround-sound stereo and large flat screen television. However, just like the real theater needs more than just "big stuff" so does the home theater. The room must be planned and built before putting in the sound reinforcement gear, viewing screen and new sofa.
A big factor in building the home theater is to build a sound-proof room, a space that will block out everyday noises in favor of the ones that enhance the movie-watching experience. How this room performs relies on the plans and materials used in the construction. This means not allowing the good sound waves to incur rattles or buzzes due to poor material and/or construction. Therefore, building the home theater requires blocking out unwanted sounds, both from inside and out, and enhancing the sounds that are meant to be heard.
1. Suspended Floor
Many recording studios accomplished a room worthy of great performances by having a floor that did not actually sit on the floor joists. Some designers used cork or other sound-dampening materilas but today this is accomplished with sheets of rigid foam and neoprene pads. The joists of the new floor are topped with either of these materials and then the substrate is glued down on this surface. This stops any vibrations from coming through because the waves are stopped by the added materials. Then the spaces between the joists are packed with fiberglass insulation to prevent the low frequencies of the subwoofers from rumbling below the floor in the hollow spaces.
2. Wall Treatment
After the floor has been built the walls of the room will be supported by this platform. Like the floor they can be buffered by a rigid foam sheet or two walls can be built next to each other. This doubled wall is then packed with an acoustic barrier like fiberglass insulation.
3. Drop Ceiling
A drop-ceiling grid is easy to make and can support sound-deadening tiles. The face of standard ceiling tiles can be covered with soft foam and then material to give a custom look. If the room is still "lively" with sound foam banners can be suspended at intervals.
4. Acoustic Absorption and Diffusion
The walls will have to be adorned with two acoustic materials to configure the right sound. These will affect sound absorption and sound diffusion. For absorption porous coverings are chosen that will trap sound. Diffusive materials can shape sound and even direct it. Plain, painted drywall will allow the frequencies to remain active while blocks of sound deadening foam hung on the walls can absorb the unwanted frequencies. For the perfectionist here are technical manuals that show how to build a perfect room with the exact frequency specification.
5. Air Handling
All rooms, especially sealed ones, require air circulation. In a home theater vents should be placed at the rear of the room well below earshot. On the other side of the room the ducts are fed by a low-velocity, air exchanger, one that is rated for ten to fifteen changes of air per hour. Duct liners such as fiberglass and foam give better noise blocking as does a plenum silencer on the unit. A commercial HVAC distributor will have these items..
6. Special Caulking
An acoustic caulking is used to support pieces that could buzz or rattle if glued together. It is a sticky substance that never dies but provides a buoyant cushioning. Vents and wood-on-wood connections could use this caulking.
A pre-hung, solid-core exterior door makes a great entrance because it already has a sound-deadening foam core as well as acoustic weatherstripping. The door will have to be covered with material as steel can produce echoes.
For more information on building a home theatre room consult out Contractor's Directory or simply post your project online.Posted by: kim